Throwing in the Towel: Rogue Sign Company Abandons L.A. Legal Challenges

World Wide Rush supergraphic sign on West L.A. office building. Photo from November, 2008

On August 19, 2008, a U.S. District Court Judge ruled that Los Angeles’s ban on new off-site and supergraphic signs was unconstitutional, and barred the city from taking action against multi-story mesh and vinyl advertising signs wrapped over buildings by an obscure Pennsylvania company called World Wide Rush.

On the heels of that decision, more than twenty other sign companies and property owners filed “copycat” lawsuits, and in the fall of 2008 it looked like Christmas had come early for advertisers and companies who believed they should have a free hand to plaster buildings throughout the city with large-scale ads for movies, TV shows, fast food, cars, and all manner of other goods and services.  But now, as the three-year anniversary of the ruling that came to be known simply as “World Wide Rush” approaches, most of those lawsuits have been withdrawn or dismissed, and the company that started it all has apparently abandoned its battle against the city’s sign laws.

The ending whimper to the legal saga that started with a bang appeared to come last summer, when the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the lower court decision, declaring L.A.’s sign bans constitutional.  Shortly after that ruling, World Wide Rush and other companies involved in the appeal, such as Beverly Hills-based Skytag, began taking down their signs, and an estimated 150 signs up after the district court ruling have now disappeared from the city’s landscape.

Following the 9th Circuit’s reversal, however, attorneys for World Wide Rush filed a motion seeking to file an amended complaint based on legal issues they claimed weren’t addressed by the appellate court.  After the deadline to seek review by the U.S. Supreme Court passed with nothing filed, U.S. District Judge Audrey Collins denied that motion, and this week the attorneys stated in a court document that they wouldn’t pursue further claims against the city.  Judge Collins then dismissed the case in its entirety.

That doesn’t mean the city can finally breathe a large sign of relief, though, because another obscure sign company, Vanguard Outdoor, filed a motion last fall to enjoin the city from enforcing the ban on its supergraphic signs.  Judge Collins denied that motion, stating that the issues had already been covered by the 9th Circuit ruling, but the company appealed, and oral arguments are scheduled before a three-judge panel on May 2.

Dennis Hathaway

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